I finally had time to get home, unpack, and reflect on this past weeks trip to the 2016 USA Volleyball Adult Open Nationals. I decided I would go with the “Good, Bad, and the Ugly” theme for this post.
- Location, Location, Location. Orlando was nice location for the Opens this year. It was easy to get in and out of and pretty cheap, considering the holiday.
- Orange County Convention Center. I have actually been here a few times for a racing industry tradeshow, so I knew what to expect. This place is MASSIVE and it was run very well. Parking was $10 a day and there was plenty of it. The temperature was pretty comfortable. The food options were good considering you were in a convention center.
- Level of Play. I was involved in three divisions: PVL, Mens BB, and Sitting. The level of play I saw in those divisions, plus what I saw just walking around was amazing. The PVL really saw an increase across the board. I also liked the idea of A/AA combining for pool play. Those divisions are thinning out, and I think this was the best solution.
- Housing. The thing I liked best about Orlando hosting was all the hosing options. The PVL team stayed at the Rosen, but the staff made use of my Time Share and got to decompress away from the event in Kissimmee.
- Our Chef. Having Stephanie Hosack come on the trip was one of the best things. It was like traveling with our own personal chef. She made an amazing team dinner the first night and then treated the coaches like kings the rest of the week.
- PVL General Managers/Commissioners Meeting. I can’t really go in to details at this point, but there was some exciting news about the future of the PVL and some really cool things that MAY be coming down the pipe. Hopefully everything will work out and an announcment can be made soon.
- Team Pineapple. They are as advertised (again). It is hard to not like these guys. From the coaches/staff to the hype team on the sidelines, they are fun to be around.
- Lloy Ball. Lloy gets his own entry here. I can’t even begin to quantify the amount of respect I have for this man. He if funny, a baller, and humble. Last year, I made the joke about him coming out from behind the stand like a messiah to lead TP to the crown. This year it was the opposite. He stepped aside and Jorge take the keys to the Ferrari. He could have stayed in the matches and no one would have said a word about it, even if they lost. He was aware enough (and humble enough) to do what was best for the team. Mad props to you!
- NorCal Sitting VB. I can even begin to say how honored I was to be part of these team. After my crappy first day, I would not have put me back in any matches. I am glad I could help win our second Bronze medal. I am stoked to watch some of you in Rio and even more of you in 2020. I hope this was a good warmup for the tournament that really matter.
- Mega-Con. Thank you for providing hours of visual entertainment all weekend long. There are certainly some diehard fans out there. Yes half-naked Princess Leia, I am talking to you…
- Grenadine. No comment here….
- Whatever the heck cooties were going around. Jay got sick, players got sick, it seemed half the dang convention center was sick. Now I know why I pack a full pharmacy in my luggage.
- TSA Lines. Luckily I have Clear and TSA Pre-Check. Otherwise, it would have been a nightmare traveling.
- Resturant Service. I am not sure why, but every place that we did eat out had pretty lousey service. A lot of times, we were the only people there too. It was not like they were crazy busy.
- Resort Fees. Apparently a lot of people got their credit cards hit with random resort fees (if your rooms were pre-paid). I get that we are in the land of the mouse, but can’t fees be waived if you are never going to use any of them?
- Toll Roads. I am not sure I have ever been on more toll roads in my life. It wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t paying a toll to sit in traffic.
- The people above us. I am not sure if there was an actual skate park or what above our rooms in the condo, but it seemed like furiture was being moved 24-7.
- Lack of procedure. This is probably the biggest issue I had this year in the PVL. There was a situation (not involving us) that made a lot of people upset. There was a 3 way tie during the power pools (power pools = 1st goes to gold, 2nd goes to silver, 3rd goes to bronze). At one point the teams were told there would be a playoff the next morning. Then, when the teams arrived, they were told they were going by USAV tie-breaking procedure of Set Wins, Set Win %, Points. Now, I don’t have a problem with that procedure WHEN it does not eliminate someone from the medal rounds. The minute it can knock someone out of contention, there needs to be a playoff. The other part that I heard (unconfirmed) is that a tie on the women’s side was decided via a playoff. So there needs to be some consistancy.
- Seeding error. I am not sure what happened, so I can’t go in to much detail. All I know is that at 8 am, when someone gets on the loudspeaker and says “Women’s A. Please stop playing immediately and send a representative to championship desk”, it can’t be a good thing. Apparently something got messed up and had to be fixed AFTER play already started. I heard by the time it was settled some teams warmed-up three times before they actually got to play.
- 8 am PVL matches. I get the fact there has to be 8 am matches. I do not like the fact that one team (yes us) had an 8 am match EVERY day. The PVL promotes these awesome party but they were almost impossible for us to attend due to the early starts every day. There has to be a way to make changes on the fly or even pre-planned to help combat this. The PVL is supposed to be the premier level, but we are not giving the athletes the chance to recover and put on the best show.
- All-Tournament selection. Last year, we made a stink about the all-tournament team selection after being snubbed two years in a row (no member from the 3rd place team made it). This year, the PVL fixed that, which is awesome. The problem is that the rest of the divisions did not. I was dissapointed that on the sitting selection, no one from the 3rd place team was selected. A lot of times, and I am NOT saying this is our case, the third place team could be the second best team in the event. You just happened to lose to the best team in the event. I don’t understand why it is such an issue to expand the all tournament teams. 4+MVP from 1st, 3 from 2nd, and 2 from 3rd/4th. That is a total of 10 players. Is it really that big of a deal?
- The Humidity. Coming from Pennsylvania, I am used to summer humidity. This was just plain cruel. I am pretty sure I kept Gold Bond in business after this week.
- Butt pain. I am not sure I have ever felt so beat up from volleyball as I have after playing sitting. It felt like sliding my butt over a cheese grater by day #2, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Well, there you have it. My quick recap of the 2016 USAV Adult Open Nationals. I want to thank Jay Hosack, Pete Madia, and Shawn Ganter for letting me share this crazy PVL ride with them this year. I want to thank the KRVA board for funding the team. Thanks to Katie Holloway for asking me to be on the NorCal Sitting team. Thanks to everyone on NorCal for accepting me in and helping me figure out the sitting game. Thanks to the Florida region for being awesome hosts. Thanks to Orlando for being a great host city. Thanks to all the VCT’ers that came and said hi. I do love networking, even if I am socially awkward. Most of all…Thank you to my wife and kids who have be keeping things going at home while I have been traveling. I am glad I get a few weeks break!!!!